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Artwork Details:

  • TypeMixed media
  • Year2002
  • Medium1.2 carat yellow diamond made with carbon from the artist’s body
  • Dimensions16.8h x 12.3w x 9d cm overall
More about this artwork:

“Normally, carbon atoms in a living thing like a human being, when that being dies, are liberated from the body by burning or decomposition, and re-enter the carbon chain, firstly probably as carbon dioxide. Every carbon atom in your body has been part of other bodies – human, animal or plant – since the formation of the planet. There are a few things which take carbon atoms and permanently bind them into a configuration that does not break down and re-enter the carbon chain, but freezes them forever. These are certain kinds of plastic, but more especially the diamond. Diamonds are carbon atoms which have been placed under great heat and pressure, miles beneath the surface of the earth. Until recently they were only naturally occurring things. But now, using machines which recreate the heat and pressure of the centre of the earth, a real diamond can be grown in a laboratory. I contacted one such lab and asked them to make a diamond from atoms which had once been in my body, in this case hair. The hair was carbonised and then graphitised and used to grow the diamond. The result is At Last I’m Perfect, a real diamond which contains some atoms which were once in my body. Taken out of the carbon chain to stay in icy splendour forever, another kind of frozen self-portrait. Of course, the title is ironic, since it’s only with the possibility of change and transformation that there can be life. This kind of perfection is really death.” - Marc Quinn, Recent Sculptures Catalogue, Groninger Museum, 2006

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